by Dru Boyer
It is time for some spring friendlies, and I am here to give you a position by position analysis of the recent form of the Yanks abroad on the USMNT roster for the matches against Argentina and Paraguay.
All three of the Americans protecting the net are currently playing off the continent. Marcus Hahnemann and his soul patch has started just 1 match for Wolverhampton this calendar year, making 3 saves in a 3-2 loss to Bolton. He did however give up one of the three goals to Stu Holden, so we applaud him for that. For all intents and purposes, Marcus has lost his job to the Welshman, Wayne Hennessey. David Yelldell, aside from having a fun last name, mans the net for MSV Duisburg in the second division Bundesliga. Yelldell is their primary keeper and has made 64 saves in 27 matches while recording 9 clean sheets, his most recent coming on the 18th of March. Tim Howard has been fairly consistent for the frequently inconsistent Toffees this season. Howard has not given up more than 1 goal in six consecutive matches and figures to be the man between the post for Bradley, unless he wants Yelldell to gain some international experience. In typical Tim Howard fashion, he has had some of his best matches against the best the EPL has to offer, recording 8 saves in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea and 9 saves in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Of the 8 defenders selected by Bradley, 5 are currently playing abroad. Carlos Bocanegra plays 90 minutes a match for the French club, St. Etienne. Boca has managed a pair of goals and an assist from his left back position. St. Etienne started the season on a tear, but have fallen back to the middle of the pack…mostly due to a lack of scoring in this writer’s opinion. Timothy Chandler has played 90 minutes in five consecutive matches for Nurnberg. Before beginning his 5 match 90 minute streak, he recorded a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win at Stuttgart…probably helping him earn his way into the lineup and Bradley’s heart. Eric Lichaj, on loan to Leeds from Aston Villa, has played every minute of every match since his arrival. Before being loaned his play time was spotty at best, but he did record a couple 90 minute efforts for the Villans. The recently resurfaced Oguchi Onyewu has been getting 90 minutes of run when he starts for (the second place) FC Twente in the Dutch Eredivisie. As of late, Twente has been playing matches every few days between the Dutch and Europa leagues, so Gooch has had a couple of days off. However, since his move from Milan, Gooch has been seeing regular playing time and has contributed to the title run of Twente, who have lost only 2 of 14 matches since his arrival. Jon Spector has appeared in nearly all of West Ham’s 2011 matches, although his playing time has been largely up and down. Specs does have a handful of goals this season, most notably his 2 goal outburst against Man U in November. Over a five game stretch in January, Spector played at least 90 minutes a match (subbed out in extra time once) and scored a pair of goals.
When it came to selecting the midfield, Bradley nearly went exclusively abroad…aside from the obvious selection of Donovan. Michael MB90 Bradley began the year with the totally shitbag German squad, Borussia M’gladbach. MB90 recorded 4 goals, including one in his final game, and 3 assists before moving on to join fellow American Brad Friedel with Aston Villa. Since the move, Bradley has not quite worked his way into the regular lineup having only played in 2 of 5 possible matches, starting once. However, with MB90’s history we here at TYAC firmly believe that he will work his way into any starting 11 given ample time. Clint Dempsey has had a real ho-hum year. Nothing really to write home about from Craven Cottage. Aside from scoring 10 goals, dishing out 3 assist and attempting 104 shots there is not much to talk about here. Just your typical record breaking season for Deuce…seriously if you are not aware of the season Dempsey has put together up to this point I’m guessing that you googled “yank”, “a broad”, and “deuce” and somehow ended up here…sicko. The 20 year old Mikkel Diskerud suits up for the Norwegian club Stabaek and in their only match of 2011 they lost 7-0…ouch. Diskerud did go 90 minutes but he couldn’t have been all that effective, or maybe he prevented an 8-0 result. In 2010, Mikkel made 29 starts and recorded 4 goals in Stabaek’s midfield. Mo Edu is a regular starter and often a major contributor for Rangers in their quest to win another SPL title. Edu has also scored a handful of goals this season, his most recent coming on February 24th in the Europa league. Mo has started and played 90 minutes in 10 consecutive matches and will be in top form for Bobbo Bradley. Benny Feilhaber is doing his thing for AGF Aarhus in Denmark. Feilhaber put together a hat trick for Aarhus in the Danish cup back in September of last year but aside from that, there isn’t much interest, and as such information, on a Danish 2nd league team available. However, Aarhus looks to be returning to the top flight league next season as they currently sit atop their table. Jermaine Jones began the year in the Bundesliga with Champions League quarterfinalist Schalke. A spat with his manager forced a Jones move to Blackburn during the January transfer period, but the move has proven to be effective for Jones, who appears to have shaken his volatile temper for the time being, starting the last 6 matches for Blackburn. Jones has gone all 90 in the last 4 playing in the midfield…usually spending most of his time in the center of the pitch. Sacha Kljestan has seen his minutes go up and down all season long for Anderlecht, who find themselves atop the Belgian league. Over Anderlecht’s last five matches, Kljestan has played 2 first halves, 1 full match, and not gotten off the bench twice. I’m sure Sacha is a little frustrated with the lack of consistent time, but at least he is well rested for the Stars and Stripes.
Bradley selected a pair of international forwards for this pair of friendlies. Jozy Altidore has recently moved from Villareal to Bursaspor in the Turkish league. Jozy has seen his playing time increase, but is still not getting as much clock in a top flight league as we would like to see. He has appeared in all 4 possible matches since making the move, usually playing around 70 minutes. As of yet, he has failed to score a goal. Hopefully Jozy will find the back of the net and get himself back on track in short order—otherwise the increasingly loud whispers that he is an American version of Emile Heskey may reach a full-throated roar. Edson Buddle is playing in the second division of the Bundesliga with Ingolstadt. Buddle is a regular, but rarely sticks around for the full 90 minutes of any given match…so fitness may be an issue. Edson has scored a couple of goals in 2011, with his most recent coming the 27th of last month.
I hope that you are as excited as I am to see our American heroes return from their exploits overseas to suit up for the Red, White, and Blue…in new kits nonetheless. Enjoy the games.
Feel free to contact me with questions/comments/hate mail (140 characters max) on Twitter, @SwampJankins.